Love is patient; love is kind…But, sometimes, love is also complicated. I know, what an understatement! But it’s true. Love isn’t always sunshine and daisies. Sometimes, that exciting spark dims, and the romance seems to fade away.
But why does that spark die? Often, it’s because we have a disconnect with our significant other. It can seem like we’re throwing out all the right signals, showering him with all our love, but for some reason, it’s falling on deaf ears. Or maybe it’s the other way around, maybe your hubby is trying to show you how much he loves you, but you don’t see it that way. It’s frustrating, and it can feel like your romance is fading.
I’ve been there. When my husband and I struggled to connect and express our love, our pastor recommended we start speaking with our love languages. My first question to him? What in the world is a love language?
Speaking of Love – What’s A Love Language?
The five love languages recognize that every person gives and receives love differently. They are actions that make us feel loved, and usually how we express our love to others.
Dr. Gary Chapman, marriage counselor and author of The 5 Love Languages® book, breaks love languages into five categories: Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, and Words of Affirmation.
Breaking Down The Five Love Languages
Acts of Service
If your spouse feels appreciated when you make dinner or take over their chores for a day, they probably speak in acts of service. Acts of Service is all about showing love by doing things for your husband. It’s about doing the dishes because you know he hates them or taking an extra minute in the morning to fix his cup of coffee.
If your husband likes to lean in close or habitually puts his arm around your shoulders during TV time, he may show love with physical touch. But, of course, physical touch isn’t just about *ahem* bedroom time. It’s also about holding hands in public, hugging, cuddling, and a gentle neck massage.
If your partner likes to plan dates or spend an hour alone with you just to de-stress, they probably speak the love language of quality time. Quality time is undivided, meaningful time spent with your partner. It can be a date night, a chat over coffee or deep conversations by candlelight, any time given that focuses on you and your partner.
If your hubby loves to send you flowers or comes home with small gifts to surprise you, then they may be a receiving gifts kind of guy. Receiving gifts can seem like the most straightforward love language to express, but it’s far more than just buying a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day. Spouses who show love by giving gifts select meaningful, thoughtful gifts like your favorite candy or a locket with their favorite family photo in it.
Words of Affirmation
If your husband leaves you little notes in your lunch box or sends you a loving text message just to surprise you, he probably speaks the love language of words of affirmation. This love language is expressed with positive, comforting, and affirming comments. Perhaps he tells you how great you look or tells you how proud he is of your latest accomplishment – those are words of affirmation.
How Love Languages Rekindle Your Relationship
“Our most basic emotional need is not to fall in love but to be genuinely loved by another, to know a love that grows out of reason and choice, not instinct…That kind of love requires effort and discipline. It is the choice to expend energy in an effort to benefit the other person, knowing that if his or her life is enriched by your effort, you too will find a sense of satisfaction…” – Dr. Gary Chapman.
The trouble with only using our love languages to express our love is that our significant other may not speak the same language. For example, we may feel loved by a kiss on the cheek or saying “I love you,” but to our partner, they may feel loved by receiving their favorite chocolates and watching a movie together. Speaking in your husband’s love language can solve the disconnect you’re feeling in your relationship.
Love Languages Make Loving and Communicating Easier
When you learn your significant other’s love language, you understand what makes them feel loved and how to honestly share your love with them. It makes it easier for you to express how much you love them in a way they can understand. When you and your husband are both feeling loved, your relationship grows even closer. You’ll argue less and love more!
Love Languages Protects Your Relationship
When you and your spouse speak in each other’s love language, you begin to understand not just how what makes them feel special but what also makes them feel neglected.
If you know your husband is a quality guy, you know that he will feel stressed when life gets busy and you haven’t seen each other. Understanding love languages lets you take action to protect your relationship and keep the spark going no matter the circumstances!
Love Languages Teach You About Yourself
When you discover your love language, you learn what makes you feel appreciated! That kind of introspection helps you advocate for yourself and give yourself a deeper level of self-care. But, more importantly, it empowers you with the terms and skills you need to tell your partner how you best feel loved and appreciated in your relationship so the sparks can fly!
Discovering Your Love Languages
Most people have two dominant love languages, a primary and a secondary. Some people (including me!) have tied love languages. My primary is Physical Touch, but my secondary is a tie between Words of Affirmation and Acts of Service!
So how do you figure out your love language? You have a couple of options.
Take The Official Test
If you’re like me, you like taking tests and getting clear answers and results. You can take a free Love Language quiz online; there are plenty of them out there! I personally recommend Dr. Chapman’s test, which you can find here.
Think About It
You don’t need an official quiz to know your love languages. Just grab a sheet of paper a pen, and start thinking about what makes you feel loved. Ask yourself some of these questions:
- What has your partner done in the last week, month, or year that made you feel extra-special?
- What small things do they do that fill your heart with warmth?
- How do you like to show love to your partner? (Chances are, how you show love is also how you want to be loved.)
After examining your answers, compare them with the five love languages. Does one fit better than the other? Do two seem to feel right? Nine times out of ten, those are your love languages.
Keep in mind that love languages are how you most feel loved. You may like the occasional gift, but you feel more loved when you get to spend extra time with your hubby – make sense? So as you explore your love language and that of your partner’s, don’t feel stressed out if you occasionally show them affection through other languages.
How To Speak In Every Love Language
Learning to speak a new love language can be as hard as learning to speak any other language. If you need help communicating in a foreign love language, don’t stress. Like any language, it takes time and practice to become a fluent speaker. Try some of these “language exercises” and actions to grow your skill in your partner’s love language.
Put the Work In With Acts of Service
There’s a delicate balance between an act of service and a stressful chore for many people. For example, you don’t want to feel overworked in your relationship by doing all the housework. While acts of service usually require physical action, like cleaning the kitchen, they aren’t intended to turn you into a maid by any means. Instead, acts of service are small actions that show you are thinking of your partner, what stresses them out, and what makes their day easier. Some ideas for acts of service are:
- Do the dishes for them.
- Make them a hot cup of tea before bed.
- Take over some errands for the day.
- Make their favorite dinner.
- Give them 15 minutes of kid-free time after a long day at work.
Get Close With Physical Touch
Physical touch requires – you guessed it – touching your partner! But like I said earlier, it’s not all about time spent in the bedroom. Physical touch speakers may enjoy sex, but physical touch is more than that! Try some of these ideas for physical touch:
- Give them a foot massage.
- Hold their hand at the grocery store.
- Hug them after a long day at work.
- Pull them in close during TV time.
- Wrap your arms around them from behind and kiss their cheek.
Invest In Quality Time
Quality time sounds deceptively easy, but it requires more focus than you might think! You need to give your partner undivided attention during the quality time – no cell phones, earbuds, or other distractions if you can help it. Here are some ideas for spending quality time with your loved one:
- Take a walk together at a scenic park.
- Play a game of MadLibs together during your next dinner reservation.
- Watch a new movie together.
- Take a couple’s dance class.
- Take a mini-vacation over the weekend, just the two of you.
Practice Receiving (and Giving) Gifts
For some people, giving and receiving gifts can be stressful for many reasons. For example, you may worry about the budget or getting the right one! But you don’t have to break the bank to speak in this love language. Small gifts can be just as meaningful! Here are some ideas:
- Bring them their favorite candy to work.
- Surprise them with a locket keychain – put your favorite picture of you two in it!
- Bring them back a small souvenir from your next business trip.
- Buy them tickets to that movie or museum exhibit they’ve been dying to see.
- Create a photo album for them full of your favorite memories.
Share Words of Affirmation
Expressing ourselves in words can be intimidating if we are more of an action person, and that is okay! My husband is a man of few words, so I know he is really trying when he gives me a verbal compliment. You don’t have to spout a love sonnet or write a rock ballad to share words of affirmation. Instead, you can show your love with just a few of these phrases:
- You look terrific today.
- I love the way you smile.
- I am so proud of you!
- I am so blessed to be married to you.
- I love you.
Remember: No One Is An Expert Saying I Love You In Five Different Languages.
Love and relationships are learning experiences. People change, and that means their love languages can too. Just remember, practice makes perfect – you have to invest in speaking your partner’s love language. In the end, learning to speak another love language will have your relationship sparking to life again in no time!
To keep adding fuel to your love fire, check out these four creative date nights at home to keep things hot n’ spicy with your spouse.